Ciocc Factory tour
Back in the heyday of cycling in America, there was no other real choices for racing bikes other than a handmade Italian framesets. There were really only a few brands that were considered big or I should say desirable or highly sought after like the Pinarello Montello SLX, the Bianchi Leggeri Reparto, Colnago Superissimo and one of our favorites the Ciocc San Cristobal. Today we planned on visiting one of our favorite frame makers from that era the Ciocc Bicycles Company. The Ciocc frames were beautiful pieces of art, they were crafted from Columbus SL steel tubing. Then painstakingly chromed and painted in rich vibrant colors, making the finished frame nothing short of artist masterpieces. Unfortunately new technologies came along and so did other frame materials. Aluminum came into being with cycling as bikes were getting lighter with the new aluminum alloys. New productions methods, came about in forming tubes and prices dropped. Steel was on the decline as it took longer to make a frame, steel frames were heavier, the industry considered them obsolete. Carbon fiber forks then started making an entrance and we all know that led to a carbon revolution. Now everything is either carbon or aluminum. Now the generation of the 70’s and early 80’s has gone through this evolution the Italian steel frameset is almost entirely absent from the American market. So I went looking in Italy for the Ciocc headquarters. I found it still going, they still are making bicycles in Bergamo, Italy. The Importer of Ciocc is Zar International and I have to tell you the pictures on Zar the web site just doesn’t do them justice at all. I reached out to the guys at Ciocc and got to go to their shop. Now the company is still in business, it’s just operating a little differently than it used to.
A little history about the company. The company did start out as the product of an artisan frame builder back in 1969. From the beginning the frames stood out, the first frames had Ciocc painted on the back of the seat tube. The reason for this was when a rider was passed, by a Ciocc rider, he could see that they were passed by a Ciocc rider. What does Ciocc mean? Back in the day, the name of a bike company was by owner/ master frame builder. In this case the name “Ciocc” is a nickname and is slang in Italian for “Poker Face”. This made more sense to me as I was talking to with Giuilo, who is one of the partners of Ciocc, I asked him why the card symbols for the logo. He told me that the original owner liked to gamble and played cards; therefore he incorporated the 4 aces into his logo. Ciocc had two top of lines of steel frame models. The first top of the line steel frame set was the San Cristobal, and is named after the location of 1977 World Road Championships in San Cristobal, Venezuela. The U23 winner that year was Claudio Corti and his feet were strapped to a Ciocc! During the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Polish rider Czeslaw Lang rode a Ciocc to the silver medal in the road race. To commemorate Lang’s achievement Ciocc created its second flagship model the Mockba. To this day both models are still in their offerings. Over the years, the company has changed hands a couple of times, first was in 1980 and then was sold again in 1991 to its current owners. The current owners were frame builders for the company, so unlike other companies that get sold this one stayed employed owned vs. going to a bigger company that has no passion for the product.
So the headquarters of Ciocc is really the size of a medium bike shop. And it looks very much like a bike shop with a retail showroom. Anyone can walk right in, order their own Ciocc right then and there. For me the real reason I was there was for the Italian steel. Although some of the original frame builders purchased Ciocc in 1991, the company now has current artisan frame builders, who specialize in steel productions frames building their frames off-site. The current builder can totally customized the customers ride. When I say customized I mean fully custom. You can have the frame set made with whatever geometry that you want. You can order a particular size, with specific top tube lengths. Do you want some special kind of cable routing or no cable routing at all? They will do that for you! Finally you can even order the color and decal color combinations that you want. All for the same price! This is pretty impressive as we all know that if you were to go somewhere and get a frameset built with these custom features, you likely would be charged for every for each and every change or modification that you wanted. Today you can get that classic Ciocc San Cristobal or Mockba frameset made for 1,450 Euros or $1,668 USD.
So what about other frame sets? Well in addition to San Cristobal and Mockba, Ciocc offers a full line of bikes from modern carbon fiber to aluminum as well as 1 steel track frameset. And that’s the reason I’m here is to see these frame sets for myself and decide if they are worth it. The Ciocc showroom has lots of bikes in it. However, there was a display that was more of a pedestal. It was about 3 feet tall and about a foot wide but it was about 6 feet in length. On top of that pedestal was a Ferrari red Ciocc relic bike. The frame set was just breathtaking and even though it was not in the center of the room it was the centerpiece of the room… I was drawn to it immediately and as I approached, I thought I was being taken back in time to the 70’s. The frameset was built with in equally stunning Campagnolo Super Record from back in the day. The paint on the frame set was deep-bright red. This was only made deeper and richer with the artisan chromed lug work. It was one of those things where you are excited to see it, but you don’t say anything, you just stare and marvel at its beauty. I can say of all of the vintage steel framesets that we got to look at the Ciocc San Cristobal was the belle of the ball.
Want one? You can cutom order your Ciocc here!